Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Crafty Crap: Giant Ruler Growth Chart

So we made one of these last year for my sister for Christmas and I have been wanting one ever since. It was so easy & cheap to make and turned out so cute! I really like these rulers because they are portable and can be moved from house to house if need be. They are also a very attractive way to decorate those skinny wall spaces you never know what to do with. Anyway, I thought I'd tell you what I did in case you'd like to make one for yourself.

First you'll need to buy a board. The original one we did was 1" x 8" x 6' but Seth got a little bit wider one this time at 12" wide. You can really customize this to whatever size you'd like. First sand the board. We have a small orbit sander that I love and have used for tons of random projects. I highly recommend one if you have room in your budget. Using the sander it was easy to get softened edges that are slightly rounded. You can totally hand sand it though, it'll just take a lot more elbow grease and time.

Next, comes the stain. We used a walnut stain but again, you could do whatever color stain you want. Heck you could even PAINT it if you wanted to. No need to worry about doing the back as nobody will see it (unless you plan on hanging it in the center of your living room like a pendulum... weirdo).

Now we get down to business. Don't worry, it's actually really easy to do and so long as you give yourself a template, you're not going to mess anything up too horribly. Get a straight-edge ruler and make a pencil mark for every inch along the entire 6-foot length of the board.

At this point you'll want to decide how you want your finished project to look. I made my ruler start at 6" so I could hang it on the wall and not have to worry about baseboards getting in the way. If you want to rest yours on the floor, you'll need to start at zero (which technically means you will have a 6 foot ruler so just hope your children aren't really tall). Next you need to make your lines. Do not try to eyeball the lines. I used a rafter square and it made the job really simple. You could also use a t-square but you'd have to be more careful to hold it straight along the edge. For the 8" wide board I made the inch lines 1-inch long and the "quarter" lines 2-inches long. I made them longer for the 12" wide board to make them more proportional, with the inch lines 2-inches long and the "quarter" lines 4-inches long. Again, work your way all the way up the board with your lines, double checking to make sure your marks are the right length.

A close-up of my lines and wall placement.
Next you'll need to get a paint pen to go over your pencil lines. I used a black one like this for the entire project, even the numbers (one pen has made 2 of these so far so you don't need to worry about buying a lot). Use the rafter square to go over your pencil lines with the paint pen. Don't try and free hand it unless you're looking for a "my kindergartner made this" look.

Now onto the numbers. Find a font you like (I used Century) and print out your numbers. For the smaller 8" board I used a 200 point size font. For the larger 12" board I used 300 point. Cut out each number (surrounded by a close-cropped box... don't cut out the exact outline of the number) and tape each one to the appropriate place on the ruler. Verify all placements are correct... you don't want to screw up now! Get a ball-point pen and trace the outline of each number, going over it a couple times to make sure it leaves a nice deep groove in the wood. If you end up tracing over a knot in the wood like I did, the pen won't leave much of a groove. In this case you can scribble on the back of the number with a pencil and then trace over it so a pencil line will be left on the wood. When the outlines are done, remove the paper and trace & fill each number with the paint pen.

At this point you may be done. You can spray your final product with clear coat, but I didn't. I thought it'd be easier to write on it later if it didn't have the coating. Do what you like. As far as hanging goes, we just drilled a couple holes (countersunk) into the board and attached it to the wall in 2 places using dry wall anchors/screws. You could also put a picture hanger on the back, but it won't be quite as secure.

So that's it! Easy huh? Now go and create! (Or if you're a close friend or family member, wait and ask me for one for your birthday or Christmas... that's the cheater way! Ha! Ha!).

Recap of supplies and tools:

1" x 8" x 6' board (or whatever size you like)
Wood Stain (or paint)
Paint Pen
Clear Coat Spray (optional)
Ballpoint Pen
Rafter Square (or T-square)
Sander or Sandpaper
Picture hanger (optional)

Original idea from 517 Creations

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Crafty Crap: Handprint Santa Ornament

So I thought I'd try and do a little Christmas craft with Sylvie this year, even though she's still a little young to be able to do much. I saw this handprint Santa ornament and decided it was a good, easy option.

Here's the salt dough recipe:

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water (give or take)

Combine ingredients in a bowl and knead until a dough forms.

Since Sylvie's hand is pretty small, this amount of dough made enough for probably 3 or 4 handprints. I was kind of dumb and didn't think to press the dough directly onto a parchment lined baking sheet. So, I made mine really fat because otherwise I couldn't peel them off the tray without ruining the print. Don't do this the dumb way. Anyway, I also didn't cut out around the fingers as directed because I didn't think it was necessary. After you've got your hand prints ready to go, poke a small hole in them in where shown (to hang later) and bake at 200 deg. F for 3 hours. Then paint, seal, and hang!

Original Instructions

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Letters to Sylvie: 17 Months

Dear Sylvie,

You've been changing so much this last month I decided I needed to write you another letter. How is it possible for you to have grown SO MUCH? It really is astounding to me how quickly you learn and grow. You're like a big sponge with appendages, toddling around.

Speaking of toddling around, you're a professional walker now. One day you woke up an hour early and just decided that was the day you were going to start walking. And that was it! It's still so weird for me to see you walk because it was such a fast transition! But I love to see you stumbling around the house. You love to wear your shoes now (they help you walk much better than just bare feet) and like to sit in your big chair while I put them on.

Walking like a champ!

Your daddy and I are constantly amazed at the little things you pick up. You were taking a bath one day and I asked you where the clock was and you pointed to the silver clock hanging up on the wall. I praised you and said, "Yeah, that's the clock! Good job!" Then you said "aghsshuck" which I deemed your version of clock. It was a bit of a throaty, complicated version of clock, almost German sounding, but it clearly ended in a "ck" sound. After your bath I took you downstairs and told your dad what you'd done. Your daddy said, "How does she know what a clock is?" I repeated the words from one of your favorite bedtime stories, "Goodnight clocks and goodnight socks." Sure enough you had been paying attention and soaked up little bits of information your dad and I were completely oblivious to. You then repeated your verbalized clock sound of "aghsshuck" and Daddy was floored. You really are learning to talk!

Practicing drinking out of a cup and laughing at Daddy's beautiful singing!

You've never been big on the t.v. and still rarely pay attention it. However, you do enjoy our nightly ritual of sharing a Ding Dong and watching an episode of Spongebob Squarepants before heading off to bed. You like the first part of the show the best where the framed talking pirate picture comes on and gruffly says, "Are you ready kids?!" Then you dance excitedly for the rest of the opening theme and anytime throughout the show when they play music. Other than that you don't pay much attention to it and would rather pull the books off the bookshelf or run away from Mommy squealing and flop around on the couch pillows on the floor. I don't think there has ever been a more adorable child.

Playing under the Christmas tree with the kitty.

You're really getting into music and especially like to listen to Christmas music. Daddy put a radio in the kitchen to listen to his football games, but turns it to Christmas music during the day. As soon as you walk in there you point at the radio so we can turn it on. You are always swaying your head or bobbing up and down to the music. You have also started clapping your hands when I sing "If you're happy and you know it." Sometimes you'll even stomp your feet which is too adorable for words.

With the cold weather in full swing, you've gotten used to putting on your little coat and hat when we go outside. Your favorite warm hat looks like a penguin wearing puffy pink earmuffs. You LOVE to wear it and sometimes ask us to put it on you when you're playing around in the house. You routinely wear it when we go grocery shopping and without fail, several strangers will comment on how cute you are in your hat.

Captain Penguin, ready for bed! This also shows your new skill of stacking your cups into a tower.

I don't know if you really like things to be clean or if you're just interested in the things you find, but you are constantly picking up nearly invisible specs of dirt off the floor. You will then come and hand them to me or Daddy as if you are hinting that we need to step up our cleaning practices. Your favorite toys right now are the pine cones I put out for Christmas decoration. You gather them up and put them in a bowl or place them in different spots to suit your tastes. Because of all the moving and such, the pine cones drop a bit of debris here and there. One evening I was in the kitchen making dinner when you came up and held out a small pine cone scale you'd found on the floor. I told you to put it in the trash can and you immediately lifted the lid and dropped the refuse inside. I'm hoping to get you started on the vacuuming next week.

Playing with pine cones and Mommy's scarf
It's taken you a while to get into climbing on things, but lately you've been loving it! You climb all over the big green couch, you climb onto the rocking chair in your room, you climb into Daddy's Adirondack chair in the office and you always seem thoroughly proud of yourself for your accomplishments. You've also started carrying your little step stool around with you and I'm sure you're going to get into something very soon.

Pointing to your bellybutton!
As usual I could go on and on, but that's what you've been up to lately. You are such a fun, smart, happy little girl. Whenever I see you my heart just fills with the most indescribable joy. I sure enjoy being your mommy.

I love you Huggy Bug,

Love, Mama